THIS IS THE GREATEST OXYMORON OF OUR AGE: “COMMON SENSE”.
In our time good sense is uncommon indeed. A few Christians still have the effect of leaven or a sprinkling of salt though. We can change the flavor of the entire lump of bread with just a sprinkling of good sense. Others behave in a more temperate manner if we display a good example.
Sometimes our family can bring a good idea, even if they have an ungodly background. It pays to listen to everyone, even if we think they are less godly than we are. Moses had a father in law who had noticed the influence that God had on Moses. This gave him a chance to get the same benefit for himself. He came to visit his son in law.
When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt; Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back, And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land: And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh: And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God: Exodus 18: 1-5
Jethro was a priest of another god, but he wanted to hear about the God that delivered his family from the Egyptians. Moses had remembered his God while he lived with his father in law. He named his children in honor of his exile and the help he got from the Lord.
And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God. Exodus 18:8-12
Jethro noted the testimony of deliverance that the Lord had given Moses. He gave glory to the true God and now worshiped the Lord. This is the beginning of wisdom:
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. Proverbs 15:33
One might think that God is trying to make a point here. He speaks through Job, David, and Solomon in these frequent reminders. How often do we still ignore warnings and proceed against the instructions of the scriptures? We may also ignore the laws of man, which are also ordained by God in many cases for our protection. Is there no judgment in our day and age? Perhaps there is not with man, but God is all knowing. Still, the fear of God is only the beginning of wisdom. We have grace that allows us to make a few mistakes on our way to the maturity of wisdom.
Jonah went the wrong way, but God delivered him to his ministry in time. David did a gross sin, but found the God of mercy, and remained a man after God’s heart. Solomon sought wisdom, and then entered into sin by following the gods of his many wives. He did discover the sum of wisdom in his old age though.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Solomon would display wisdom throughout his life, but still made mistakes. Wisdom is earned over time, and he explored every experience of life to give us answers. We do not have to repeat his mistakes, as he learned that all of this is vanity. He provided the hard lessons of life so we would not have to feel his pain. He summed it up for us.
Jethro observed the daily life of Moses and considered a better way.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them kn ow the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. Exodus 18:13-23
Jethro suggested dividing the work among delegated leaders; delegating authority. But he pointed to godly men for this assignment. This is true for our church today as well.
This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:1-13
We still find some leaders placing others in a ministry without really getting to know them first. This can lead to disaster as their flaws are revealed in action. You really have to work with a person for a few seasons to get to know them.
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
One way is to get to know those who do the work of the church. You learn more in a a few shared labors than you can in years of shaking hands on Sunday morning. You can also learn from the persons who are serving over you in leadership.
Moses recognized this wisdom as being in line with God’s will. Jethro had a revelation from the God he had embraced. So Moses ordained leaders to help in judging the daily business of this great army of God.
So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. Exodus 18:24-26
You may wonder why this is important to you. You may consider yourself just a “private” in the Army of the Lord. But promotions are good, and bring a pay increase. We need to learn from the older leaders in humility first though. We cannot promote ourselves as Jacob tried to do! It is important to invest the talents the Lord has given us, and learn to care for his vineyard. He wants us to become leaders. Children will eventually grow up to become partners in the family business, not mere spectators. You are part of a team!
We need to learn individual skills to become strong. This strength is meant to help the whole team to reach their goals. It is too much to leave it all to the pastor. He needs your help. In sports the ball hog or glory hound may get a big paycheck. But the real winners have discovered that they need a whole team of support to reach their goals. The top winners have help from trainers, coaches, agents, masseurs, fans, family, and their team mates. The real winners remember to give honor to the source of all blessings; The Lord our God.